The April 10 meeting of the Amidon-Bowen Elementary School PTA, led by Marty Wells and Principal Izabela Miller, gave the community a first glimpse at the $5 million project that will start as soon as students and teachers clear the building this June.
Joseph Sullivan, from the DC Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, now under the Division of General Services, explained the complete modernization of Amidon-Bowen would happen in three phases: Interior, Exterior and Mechanical, starting this summer. No date for the completion of the second and third phases was provided, but they will be completed within ten years. The District plans to start the modernization of all schools in the next five years.
Jefferson Middle School is scheduled to begin modernization in 2013-14.
Daniel Curry, the architect from Quinn Evans Architects, showed drawings of the project. This summer, Phase I will focus on the classrooms, hallways and administrative offices. This will include new furniture, lighting and sound abatement, as well as the removal of the “window air conditioners” and an installation of modern energy efficient heating/air conditioning units with individual controls in every room. It was also mentioned that the name on the building would be changed to read “Amidon-Bowen Elementary School.”
It was noted the School Library received a makeover in 2011 thanks to Target Stores and Heart of America Foundation.
The administrative offices, now down a long hallway from the front entrance, will be moved front and center. The entrance will be transformed into an attractive “Welcome Center” with an ADA accessible ramp available to all who enter. Landscaping changes around the entrance on Eye Street will feature natural plantings and use of rainwater to maintain them. A new circulation pattern from the central area to the playground and Cafetorium will eliminate the necessity of children passing by classroom where students are working.
The present classrooms at Amidon-Bowen are smaller than current standards for elementary classrooms. As a result, the space used by three classrooms will be converted into two separate rooms with technology built in, flexible furniture, ergonomically designed for each grade level, new acoustic ceilings, flexible lighting and new flooring. The current pattern of class location will be largely unchanged, with lower grades on the first floor, upper grades on the second floor.
The school will be organized into “neighborhoods,” by color and special graphics to identify each. Colors have been carefully selected to enhance the learning environment. Hallways and classrooms will provide ample room for student work to be displayed. Parents, grandparents and visitors will be able to see what is being studied in the classrooms from the hall.
The technology provided will change with the needs of each grade level. Upper grades will have integrated technology walls. There will be five computers in every classroom as well as a complete computer lab big enough to instruct a whole class.
All the restrooms will be modernized. Pre-K and kindergarten rooms will have their own modern restrooms sized for them as they do now. The music and art rooms will also be upgraded.
Upgrades to gyms, auditoriums and kitchens are deferred to Phase II.
Although there is an elevator shaft in the building to allow ADA access to the second floor, installation of an elevator is not planned this summer. Phase III addresses the mechanical, electrical and other “behind the wall” systems, such as increasing the school’s electrical capacity.
The assembly room, known as the Cafetorium, is not part of the renovation plan for this summer. It was explained that possibility of installing some acoustical material to dampen the very loud environment that makes using the room difficult for both students and staff was being considered. A complete correction of the deficiencies in that room is beyond the scope of this summer’s project. Replacement of the windows and playground improvements are also not scheduled in Phase I.